“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis

411SVmEudPLHow did I get the book?
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Dystopian

Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic literary epic in the tradition of The Handmaid’s Tale, Divergent and Cloud Atlas, and a breakout book in North America for a writer of rare and unconventional talent.

From Guardian First Book Award finalist Sandra Newman comes an ambitious and extraordinary novel of a future in which bands of children and teens survive on the detritus–physical and cultural–of a collapsed America. When her brother is struck down by Posies–a contagion that has killed everyone by their late teens for generations–fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star pursues the rumour of a cure and sets out on a quest to save him, her tribe and what’s left of their future. Along the way she faces broken hearts and family tragedy, mortal danger and all-out war–and much growing up for the girl who may have led herself and everyone she loves to their doom.

200words (or less) review: I did not finish this book so I won’t be giving a recommendation at the end of my review. It’s important for me to point out that unlike other DNF reviews The Country of Ice Cream Star wasn’t a book I disliked, it’s the narration I struggled with.

The Country of Ice Cream Star has its own language. I’ve seen it described as a sort of Pigeon English. Sandra Newman doesn’t just use this for the dialogue but the entire book is narrated as such and that for me was the problem. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

There was enough to recognise that I most likely would have enjoyed this book in a different narration style. Ice Cream Star is feisty and brave, the story progresses quickly. There is a lot of information and world-building, also I thought their society was intriguing but it wasn’t enough to keep going.

I asked three friends to read the first page of the book. Two liked Sandra Newman’s approach and the third had the same feelings as me. So I think The Country of Ice Cream Star will divide people.

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Books reviewed this month:

july

The Country of Ice Cream Star

While The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Banned Book Discussion)

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey*

Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2) by Alethea Kontis

Re-read Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Haunt by Curtis Jobling*

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud*

The Fearless by Emma Pass

Tiger Moth by Suzi Moore*

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen*

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie: The One with the Zealous Zombees by Jeff Norton

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll

 

*eBooks

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banned books

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Bibliobeth & I (aka Luna’s Little Library) will be reading a Banned or Challenged Book.

We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged. How/If things have changed since the book was originally published. What we actually think of the book.

If you’d like to joining in there is a list of the books we’ll be reading at the bottom of this post.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

First published: 1st February 1999
Still in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2013 (source)
Chosen by: ChrissiReads
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

About the book: Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year yet socially awkward,he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Discussion

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: The book was published in 1999 and it’s fair to say that by that time we were a much more open society about things like drugs and sexuality, especially things that were shown in the media at that time for example the increased sexual content in music videos etc. However, I can also see why at that time it was challenged as the book does tend to stray into risky territory with a lot of potentially taboo issues. I think if at that time I had been studying it for English GCSE, I would have been fairly shocked – not by the content, but that the school was “brave” enough to be allowing us to study it!

CHRISSI: I completely understand why it would be challenged when it was originally published. The way I see it is that it deals with some very intense issues. If you’re using it at a school… even from 14+ , it’s a very touchy subject to actually teach. I completely understand that teenagers need to know about these issues, but in a way, I think a book like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t the best educational tool.

LUNA: Ahm… actually no. When the book was first published I was 14, nearly 15 – so the audience for this novel. While The Perks of Being a Wallflower does have a lot of “issues” none of them, in my opinion, are explored in any great detail. They just get a surface mention. Yes there is some swearing and yes I accept that drugs, abuse (physical and/or sexual) are though subjects but the book doesn’t really go into them. It’s certainly not anywhere near as graphic as I expected given that Perks is still in the top 10 of challenged books in 2013. Thinking of my teenage self and what I knew from my peers, TV and also what I was reading I would not have been shocked.

How about now?

BETH: I’m really not sure! I think it would take a strong person to challenge the current curriculum and bring in books that may deal with darker issues like Perks. I honesty can’t imagine any teacher standing in front of a class and talking about Charlie’s discovery of masturbation or the scene in which he watches a couple participate in some (ahem!) sexual acts. Saying that, it would be terrific if the curriculum included some books that were a bit risky, even just to test the water. I think also that schools have to be careful to respect parents wishes, and some children may be brought up with certain beliefs, religious issues that may be easily offended by books such as this. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a safe middle ground is chosen?

CHRISSI: I don’t think my views have changed that much. From working in education, I can see why teacher’s would find this difficult to use as a teaching tool. However, I do think it’s important that children learn about the issues that Perks covers in a sensitive manner. I’m just not sure that Perks is the right piece of literature for it. I also imagine the parents would kick up all sorts of fuss about it. With the movie being fairly new out, perhaps it will become more acceptable in time.

LUNA: Still no. Ignoring what I’ve previously there are two main reasons why challenging/banning The Perks of Being a Wallflower makes no sense to me.

1) The reasons “drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group” are already represented the books being thought, both in the UK and the US. I spend quite a bit of time researching the reading list for GCSE (UK) and High School (US) and while they didn’t always match some authors kept reappearing: William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, William Golding just to name a few.

Classic Literature is full of unhealthy relationships, sex, violence and drug abuse. Sherlock Holmes probably the most famous drug user that comes to mind.

Shakespeare’s plays cover pretty much every ‘reason’ The Perks of Being a Wallflower was/is being challenged. Romeo and Juliet has teenage sex, plenty of violence and suicide. For unhealthy relationship (you could probably argue that Romeo and Juliet belong in there) there is an abundance of choice. How about Othello? Jealous husbands strangles his wife. For cross-dressing and gay themes: Twelfth Night. (Btw I don’t agree that “homosexuality” should ever be a reason for challenging/banning a book. That’s a whole different rant…)

My point is that the difference between those books and The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the language. They are classics and taught throughout schools yet because Perks is modern it’s challenged? Shakespeare is pretty graphic so why is that ok but a modern book dealing with similar themes worse?

2) I think that grown-ups have a tendency to underestimate teenagers. They are young adults, not children. There is still growing to do but pushing stuff aside won’t make it not be there. Books are a great door to discussion. While I’m sure that there will be giggles during Charlie’s ‘I’ve discovered masturbation letter’ that will be the minority. I believe much more of the time will be spent talking about the important issues in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and books like this.

What did you think of the book?

BETH: I went into this book with no expectations as when it was first published I mis-judged it without knowing what the story was about. After reading it and reflecting on it, I thought I was going to enjoy it more when I first started, but thought it was a really interesting read about the perils we all face when becoming an adult. I loved Charlie’s voice in the novel and enjoyed that it was written in the form of letters as it was nice to read something a bit different.

CHRISSI: I didn’t like it as much as when I read it the first time. I mean, it’s an easy enough read, but I don’t exactly ‘get’ why it has the hype it does. In a way, reading it as a few years later… I feel it’s trying to shock the reader with all of the issues.

LUNA: Despite my impassioned argument for why I don’t agree with the reasons Perks being banned/challenged I actually didn’t enjoy reading the book. It took me nearly two weeks of stop and start to get through it, which is unheard of.

I think I had much too high expectations going in and because none of the issues were really explored in detail I felt rather let down.  Shockingly I preferred the film.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: Yes, I think I would. I think because of the issues it deals with it will remain a book that people will still be talking about in twenty years time.

CHRISSI: Yes. I do think it’s a book that everyone should at least try at one point in their lives. Even if it’s just to say they’ve read it.

LUNA: Not sure. I think there are many books that deal with the subjects better.

What are your thoughts?
Should The Perks of Being a Wallflower be banned/challenged?
Are the themes inappropriate?
As a teen does / would the content shock you?

Banned Book Reading List for 2014

August
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Chosen by: Luna

September
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Chosen by: Beth

October
Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”)
Chosen by: Chrissi

November
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Chosen by: Luna

December
Lush by Natasha Friend
Chosen by: Beth

 

Next Book:
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Join in the discussion!

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to show what books you’ve added to your library in the past 7 days. These can be bought books, borrowed, review copies, any which way they come to you.

For Review

I’m a bit behind, these are the books from the last few weeks…

City of Halves by Lucy Inglis
The Castle by Sophia Bennett
Thank you Chicken House Ltd

The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery
Witch Hunt (Witch Finder #2) by Ruth Warburton
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
Thank you Hodder Children’s Books

Foulsham by Edward Carey
The Black North by Nigel McDowell
Thank you Hot Key Books

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D. D. Everest
Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton (reviewed)
The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll (reviewed)
Thank you Faber & Faber

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
Thank you Amulet Books

20559895

Night Runner by Tim Bowler
Thank you Oxford University Press

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51yIlsNbWaL._SY445_How did I get the book?  Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Contemporary / Paranormal

Previously reviewed:
Last Chance Angel

Synopsis: A moving contemporary tale of family, love and loss from the author of Last Chance Angel.

Teenager Laura gets the shock of her life when she moves to rural Derbyshire and finds the ghost of her dead father in her grandmother’s home. At first Laura is overjoyed to see him, but as time passes she begins to wonder why her dad is finding it so difficult to move on, and why her mother still refuses to talk about his death.

What is the secret that has been kept from her for all these years?

200words (or less) review: No Going Back was a very quick read for me, if I hadn’t had to part with it due to other commitments I most likely would have read the book in one sitting.

With the exception of the first few chapters Laura is a fourteen year old teenager, Alex Gutteridge has written given her a friendly and engaging voice.

Likeable as Laura is I did think she came across as quite young in places, especially in comparison with other girls in the genre but No Going Back is a sweet book (I mean this as a compliment, it’s something lovely to read) so that might be the reason.

I enjoyed the story but it was the changing relationships between the characters that I liked best about this book, particularly the one between Laura and her grandmother. Actually I think Laura’s grandmother was my favourite character in the story.

No Going Back is a moving story family and growing up.

Recommend it?

Absolutely

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chrissi&lunacompare1

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

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Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

 

Thoughts before you started reading Rebel Belle?
CHRISSI: I loved the cover. It completely drew me in.

LUNA: I’d previously read School Spirits and really enjoyed it. When I heard of Rebel Belle I knew I wanted to read it.

What did you think of Harper Price?
CHRISSI: At first I wondered whether I’d like her, because she so bossy and a really intense over achiever, but I quickly found her a kick ass character. I accepted Harper for being Harper!

LUNA: Despite the fact that she probably would have been the girl I avoided in school, I liked Harper from the first chapter. I think it’s the fact that she’s honest. She’s also gets on with things, no endless whining about how unfair life it.

Best bit?
CHRISSI: I really loved the first few chapters. I didn’t know anything about Rebel Belle before starting it, so I didn’t know where the story was going to go. I felt immediately gripped and wanted to know what was going on with Harper!

LUNA: I’ve got to hand it to Rachel Hawkins, she’s completely hooks you on the story. I enjoyed the entire book, Harper’s narration didn’t drag, and the characters were just there. Didn’t have to work at picturing the world Harper lived in, just saw it. It’s a really fun and engaging read.

Worst bit?:
CHRISSI: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romances in this book. I just think it was very dragged out.

LUNA: There wasn’t really anything that stood out. I guess the ending felt a little rushed and I’m sad I have to wait until April 2015 to find out what happens next.

Favourite character / moment?
CHRISSI: I have two favourite characters. Harper and Daniel. I really liked Harper as a narrator and as annoying as she could come across as, she still kicked ass!

LUNA:  Both Harper and Daniel are really likeable, so I’d probably pick them as my favourites. I also liked Harper’s best friend Bee a lot. My favourite moments were Harper’s showdown in the girl’s bathroom at the very beginning and then the car chase.

Was Rebel Belle what you expected?
CHRISSI: I went into reading it not knowing about it. I was pleasantly surprised!

LUNA: Yes, it was funny, exciting and I loved that the girl was the protector and Daniel the damsel. :P

Would you recommend it?
CHRISSI: Yes. It’s a fun, fast-paced read (with a pretty pink cover!)

LUNA: Absolutely.

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800388How did I get the book?
StorytellerInc Book Club

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken.

200words (or less) review: Unlike with other books where I make a point not to, I have seen the movie The Princess Bride many times and I love it. If you haven’t seen the film I think you’ll enjoy the story of Buttercup and Westley just as much as if you had. The book adds back story and there are some differences but thankfully the movie stayed pretty close.

I still love the variety of characters, the adventure and of course the romance. There is one thing about the book that, for me, didn’t work and that’s the story within the story. William Goldman spins a tale about how his father read him The Princess Bride and he later found the book and cut the boring parts to match his father’s version. I didn’t mind his “notes” within the actual Princess Bride but the beginning as well as the very end (temptingly called Buttercup’s baby) weren’t for me.

That said once you get past the introduction and begin The Princess Bride you have a fantasy story that fulfills nearly every checklist you could throw at it – loved it.

Recommend it?

Absolutely

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